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Is the polio vaccine safe and effective?
Yes! Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), which is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000, protects 99 – 100 percent of people who get all the recommended doses. Among both children and adults, IPV has long proven safe and effective. IPV does not contain any live virus, and it cannot cause polio. Given in either the arm or the leg depending on the patient's age, it's critical to get all recommended doses for the best protection possible. Learn more about IPV at CDC's Polio vaccination website.
Who should get vaccinated against polio?
- All unvaccinated children (17 years of age or younger) or those children not up to date with immunizations should get immunized. This is particularly urgent if they live, work, attend school, or have frequent social interactions with communities where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected in wastewater.
- Most adults 18 and older born and raised in the United States were vaccinated as children and likely to be protected from getting polio, unless there are specific reasons to believe they were not vaccinated against polio. More information about adult polio vaccination can be found here.
- Adults and children who may have received poliovirus vaccination outside the U.S. should meet the U.S. recommendation for polio vaccination that includes protection against all three poliovirus types. If documentation is available and shows that the child or adult received age-appropriate vaccination with either IPV or trivalent OPV (tOPV), then the person is considered fully vaccinated. To ensure those vaccinated outside the U.S. meet the U.S. recommendations consult a healthcare provider.
- Adults who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected in wastewater and are unvaccinated, under-vaccinated, or don't believe they are vaccinated should get all recommended vaccine doses.
- Michigan adults who are unvaccinated, under-vaccinated, unsure of their vaccination status, or not up to date with vaccinations should consult with a healthcare provider. If vaccination is recommended and a provider does not have doses on hand, Michiganders should contact their local health department.
When should children get vaccinated against polio?
As part of routine childhood immunization, children should get inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to protect against polio. In accordance with CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations, children should receive a total of four IPV doses, with one dose at each of the following ages:
6 weeks through 2 months old
4 months old
6 months through 18 months old
4 years through 6 years old
Children who have not started their polio vaccine series or who are delayed in getting all recommended doses should start as soon as possible or finish their series by following the recommended catch-up schedule. For more information, see CDC's Vaccine Schedules for Parents.
If I am not vaccinated, not up to date with vaccinations, or unsure of my vaccination status, what should I do?
- Adults who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected and don't believe they are vaccinated should get vaccinated.
- Adults who live or work in these areas and who have only had 1 or 2 doses of the polio vaccine in the past should get the remaining 1 or 2 doses – it does not matter how long it has been since the earlier doses.
- People starting the polio immunization series after 4 years of age who are unvaccinated or are unsure if they have been immunized should receive a total of 3 doses of IPV:
- The first dose at any time
- The second dose 1 to 2 months later
- The third dose 6 to 12 months after the second
- Michigan adults who are unvaccinated, unsure of their vaccination status, or not up to date with vaccinations should consult with a healthcare provider. If vaccination is recommended and a provider does not have doses on hand, Michiganders should contact their local health department.
If I am unsure or can't locate proof of my or my child's vaccination status, what should I do?
Michiganders who are unsure of their own or their child's vaccination status should contact their healthcare provider or immunization clinic. If your child is under 19 years old, their healthcare provider is required to record their polio immunizations to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) and should have that information available.
If you moved to Michigan from another State, you may not have a record in MCIR. It will be important to try and locate your record. Go back to your healthcare providers for help in obtaining a copy of the record. If you are unable to find your immunization record, you may need to re-start your vaccinations to become up to date with your immunizations.
Most children and adults are already vaccinated. But adults who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected and don't believe they are vaccinated should get vaccinated.
If you have been immunized in the State of Michigan, and you are 18 years of age or older, you may be able to download your Immunization Record from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) at the Michigan Immunization Portal.
Who should get a booster dose?Adults who are completely vaccinated and are planning to travel to countries with increased risk of exposure to poliovirus may receive a single lifetime booster dose of IPV.
Situations that put adults at increased risk of exposure to poliovirus include:
- You are traveling to a country where there is a documented increased risk of exposure to poliovirus.
- For more information see Polio: For Travelers and ask your healthcare provider if you need to be vaccinated.
- You are working in a laboratory or healthcare setting and handling specimens that might contain polioviruses.
- In Michigan, this may include individuals who collect or work with wastewater specimens for poliovirus testing.
- You are a healthcare worker or caregiver who has close contact with a person who could be infected with poliovirus.
- In Michigan, this would include:
- Healthcare workers who work in areas with community transmission of poliovirus and who could care for patients with poliovirus (e.g., urgent care, emergency department, neurology, pediatrics).
- Individuals who will or might have exposure to a person known or suspected to be infected with poliovirus, such as household members and other close contacts of a case or suspect case who provide care.
- Childcare or pre-K providers who work in areas with community transmission of poliovirus and provide diapering or toileting care or assistance.
- In Michigan, this would include:
- You are an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult whose children will be receiving oral poliovirus vaccine (for example, international adoptees or refugees).
- You are an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult living or working in a community where poliovirus is circulating.
What are the possible side effects of polio vaccination?
You or your child may not notice any changes after getting your polio shots. But it's also possible to feel a little "under the weather." This can happen after any vaccine. Following IPV, you or your child may have a sore spot where the shot was given. Importantly, IPV has not been known to cause serious problems, and most people do not have any problems with it. Learn more about IPV at CDC's Polio vaccination website.
Can Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) give people polio?
No! The IPV vaccine, which does not contain live virus, cannot give you polio.
What is the oral polio vaccine (OPV), and can it give people polio?
OPV, which is no longer licensed or available in the United States, is a type of polio vaccine that is used in other parts of the world. Children receive doses of the vaccine by drops in the mouth. The virus strain in OPV doesn't cause polio, but if it spreads among an under-vaccinated population, it can – very rarely – mutate into a form that can cause disease. Since 2000, only IPV has been used in the United States to eliminate the risk of vaccine-derived poliovirus that can occur with OPV. For more information, see the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)’s webpage About Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) here.
How can people pay for the polio vaccine?
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. However, you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor.
If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child's doctor. You can also contact your State VFC coordinator. Adults can also see Finding and Paying for Vaccines or Find a Travel Medicine Clinic.
Get immunized! Make sure you and your children are up to date with polio immunizations.
Local health departments, including the Oakland County Department of Health are offering free IPV (polio) vaccine at their location. Michiganders can also contact a healthcare provider, clinic, or local health department in their area.
Scheduling information for Oakland County:
Oakland County's Vaccine Clinics webpage or call 248-858-1302.
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